Steve Armstrong's night was nearly over. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation referee had just presided over the Shark Fights 13 co-main event, and now he was waiting to do his last pre-fight check over main event participant Keith Jardine.
Armstrong waited in the aisle of the Amarillo Civic Center as Jardine threw his arms up for the cheering crowd and approached him. As they intersected, Armstrong stopped Jardine with his right hand in order to begin his mandatory check. In a flash, Jardine pushed Armstrong's hand away and then stared at the veteran referee for a beat before shoving him backwards.
That quick exchange, which took just 2.5 seconds in real time, landed Jardine an indefinite suspension at the hands of the state's athletic sanctioning body, TDLR. In an interview with MMA Fighting, Armstrong explained how the incident took place and his thoughts on the actions that landed the MMA veteran in hot water.
"I think he was zoning. He was fixing to fight a big fight. I was trying to stop him, and he smirked and pushed me. I said, 'You push me again, you're DQ'd.' Then he patted my shoulder like he realized what was going on. I think he got caught in the moment."
"I don't know if I would've even brought it up. But the commissioner and assistant commissioner were sitting 10 feet away so they were watching the whole thing. They asked me why he pushed me. I said, 'I don't know.' And I really don't know. It wasn't something I did, that's for sure."
"He's got a lot of fights, he should know better. There's no excuse but I didn't want to see him get suspended indefinitely. I just wanted to know, 'Hey, do you have a mouthpiece and a cup on?' In every fight that's checked, so this is nothing new to Keith. We're always going to look at your gloves and do those checks. That's all very standard, going through that checkpoint."
"I think the state doesn't want anyone else to do this, so they may be making a statement that this is not the way you conduct yourself. And it's true, you have to conduct yourself as a professional. But I believe everyone makes mistakes. You'd have to look at his career and see if he has a habit of doing these things. If it's his first offense, it's not a habitual thing. He seems like pretty much a gentleman. I think he got carried away in a big moment, in a big fight. I wish him the best. I didn't take it personally, but it's not up to me."
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